Editorial: Butner not going quietly

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Salisbury resident Mac Butner has taken pride in being a loyal Republican for decades. He is not lifting a finger this summer, though, to help party officials out of an awkward situation.

Butner has refused to step down from a position which local GOP officials say he got through “clerical error” — a seat on the Rowan County Board of Elections. Now the State Board of Elections says it will hold a public hearing to consider Butner’s removal from the county board.

This is bizarre.

Last year, Butner opted not to apply for reappointment to the Rowan County Housing Authority board he chaired after critics pointed out racist leanings in some of his Facebook posts. For example, Butner said white people were not participating in Moral Monday protests at the General Assembly because “they were too busy working being productive citizens.” Race was not his only target. Another post criticized the GOP’s outreach efforts and ended with “To hell with the lesbos, queers liberals and baby killers.”

In the Housing Authority instance, Butner could claim he was exercising his freedom of speech, which is certainly his right, however demeaning the speech might be. That was enough for him to hold on to the office and finish out his term. This year’s controversy is different. The local GOP chairman, Steven Kidd, says a clerical error was involved in the elections board appointment, which suggests Butner was not supposed to get the post. Evidently a mistake happened as names were passed from the local party to the state party and then to the state Board of Elections. The story sounds weak; perhaps that’s why Butner is stubbornly holding on to an appointment which state GOP officials don’t want him to have.

This strange turn of events does not reflect well on anyone involved. Before the controversy erupted, the other two members of the local elections board chose Butner as their new chairman, believe it or not. Party officials look foolish as they blame what looks like bad judgment on “clerical error.” Something is awry here, and it’s not just Butner’s Facebook posts.

Butner should step down and save his party and his county further embarrassment, but that’s not in his nature. He wants the title too much.   

If the N.C. Board of Elections and Chairman Josh Howard can sort this out, they’ll be doing Rowan County a favor. The date of the public hearing has not been set, at last check, but it should be a humdinger.